Getting more from your data with data warehouses & business intelligence

Data Warehouses (DW) and Business Intelligence (BI) are two separate but closely linked technologies that are crucial to the success of any large or midsize business.

Both can exist in isolation but when used correctly, they’re able to provide another level of business data understanding. The insights gleaned from these systems are vital for an organization as they can help increase revenue, decrease costs and improve decision making.

In this article we define DW and BI and look at how they can be used together to give your business game changing insights. 

What is DW?

For many, data is the life blood of an organization. But with so many data sources available and customers more willing than ever to provide it, the sheer volume of data can be difficult to manage and even harder to gain actionable insights from. This is where a DW can help.

The bulk of your organization’s raw data is likely separated into multiple operational systems, logs, and unstructured data sources, and spread across multiple departments. A DW is a centralized location that brings all of that data together and optimizes it, ready for reporting and analysis.

Previously, DWs were expensive and time consuming to create and cumbersome to manage. But new, automated data warehouses such as ZAP’s Data Hub are changing the game. Automated DWs make it possible to load masses of structured and unstructured data to its cloud-based data warehouse, allowing analysts to run queries to transform the data on the fly as needed.

Why use a DW?

There are many business drivers in play today that are motivating companies to utilize data warehouses, some of which are summarized below.

Have a Single Version of the Truth

Fragmented, inconsistent and outdated data in multiple databases does not lead to good strategic and tactical decision making. Data Warehouses help companies to achieve a single version of the truth by consolidating the most accurate and current data from the most reliable systems.

Up-to-Date and Accurate Information

In a highly competitive market place, businesses need to quickly identify problems and opportunities and respond to them appropriately. Up-to-date information on sales, profits, inventories and customers can help companies to identify and act on problems and opportunities that could otherwise be missed. Application systems that are too narrowly scoped or operate on cycles that don’t support real-time or near real-time information access cannot provide this. A DW, on the other hand, can be designed to deliver up-to-date accurate information to decision makers, helping your business to remain dynamic.

Meet Rapidly Changing Information Needs

It is very difficult for businesses to anticipate future information needs. Application systems often seem rigid and unable to adapt to evolving management information needs. Businesses need the flexibility to slice and dice data in many ways in order to identify and analyze changes in the market place or in the business itself. Data Warehouses are designed for online, analytical purposes and provide great flexibility.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

Identifying your best customers and providing them with excellent service is vital to retaining them. Using a Data Warehousing can help to identify a company’s best customers based on a criteria that applies to you and keep them satisfied.

New Service Delivery Channels

As technology evolves, the traditional model for customer habits and purchases changes. Being available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday is no longer enough. In the internet age, customers expect to be able to do business 7 days a week, 24 hours per day. By combining and examining all customer transactions, across all channels used, businesses can better understand their customers in order to serve them better. 

What is BI?

BI can help companies to easily interpret even the largest data sets, render actionable information to end users and support them in making more informed business decisions.

BI encompasses the set of strategies, technologies, applications, data, and processes used by an organization and supports in data analysis, demonstration, and propagation of business information. It combines the external data derived from the market with the internal data obtained from the company and creates an “intelligence” that cannot be reaped from any singular set of data.

In short, BI helps enterprises to make effective business operational and strategic decisions. In today’s hyper competitive market place it is a vital tool for staying one step ahead of the competition.

Why you should use DW with your BI

BI tools can help your company to get game changing insights from your business data. But BIs can only be effective if the data they are provided with is clean, clear and decipherable. This is where the DW comes in.

By gathering data from multiple sources and departments and preparing it for analysis within a BI, DWs help your BI tool to provide even greater insight into the data that you already own. Without this step in the process, your business could end up making decision based off data that is incomplete or even plain wrong. With a smart data warehouse and an integrated BI tool, you can literally go from raw data to insights in minutes.